“There is no Black Friday here,” declared Toronto resident, Brianna Legall. For many Canadians, our sorry imitation of the sales bonanza south of the border is like Black Friday Lite: a lot healthier, but not quite capable of satisfying our appetites. A few years ago, the event was virtually non-existent in Canada, but now many Canadian retailers are boasting half-off sales and door crashers for Black Friday.
This move doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Canadian economy loses billions of dollars a year to cross-border shopping, particularly during the American Thanksgiving weekend. American Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November, and the sales bonanza takes place the next day with many states giving their employees that day off as well. In an effort to convince Canadians to spend their dollars at home, Canuck retailers opted to keep all the gratitude to our usual Thanksgiving in October, but transplant that profitable little American tradition, if you will, up north.
Scepticism about the worthiness of Canadian sales on Black Friday is fair. In the past, our malls have displayed weak promotions that would make the half off signs in New York, Iowa, and Alabama blush with second-hand embarrassment. Sophie Angoh, shop consultant at shop.com, was quite underwhelmed by Black Friday advertisements here in Canada. “As I was walking around the mall today, I only saw two stores that were advertising Black Friday deals,” she said on Thursday. She also observed a number of store signs promoting deals, but not explicitly in relation to Black Friday, leading her to conclude that they were “recycled deals” meant to serve as “a gimmick for Canadian stores to get rid of fall clothing and make way for their winter stock.”
Stores have attempted to up their game in recent years by boasting noteworthy discounts and promising gifts and free giveaways. Malls have also stepped up by offering services to make the shopping experience more comfortable for patrons. Yorkdale Mall, for instance, offers a delivery service to shoppers that will allow them to use public transportation without worrying about lugging their purchases with them on the bus ride home, while at the same time limiting the number of drivers looking for parking spaces.
Still, there is an alternative to the physical discomforts of waiting in line, carrying bags, and occasionally, fighting with others: online shopping. Cyber Monday is the popular term for the e-commerce world’s answer to Black Friday, although online deals can be found just as easily on Black Friday itself. Angoh pointed out that Black Friday is still a great time to take advantage of the slashed prices and get Christmas shopping done, and suggested the option of using sites like shop.com. Shop.com users benefit from an additional discount in the form of cashback. “You can create a free cashback account, and whenever you buy online through our partner stores, for example The Bay which has 50% off certain items, you can receive an additional six percent cashback simply from buying online,” she explained. “[You can] skip the lines, save the gas, and spend more time doing other things you love doing.”
While our ability to imitate the United States when it comes to putting on a good sale may be questionable, we certainly haven’t reached the point where the craziness of our Black Friday rivals theirs. Our national reputation has yet to be sullied by viral videos of brawls over flat screen TVs. Nobody does consumerism like Americans who have no problem decking a rival shopper or camping out in order to get first pick. And as much as we may poke fun at them, imitate them, and at times, envy them, they appear to be charmingly unaware of our affairs. The following real-life conversation over text demonstrates this:
Canadian to American friend: Happy American Thanksgiving
American: Back at ya lol
Canadian: Our Thanksgiving was in October lol
American: What’s it called?
American: Oh lol.
God Bless America.